There’s a skatepark in Weiz. You could have gone there last weekend. Or you could have visited the llamas at Alpakahof Mitterdorf. Or walked up a hill.
We wouldn’t have done any of the above. If we’d have been in eastern Austria last weekend, there’s only one thing we’d have done. We’d have gone to watch Raimund Baumschlager propose an alternative future for our sport.
Rallye Weiz was Baumschlager’s first competitive outing in the all-electric Škoda Kreisel RE-X1. He finished third overall on the dry-wet-dry asphalt event, but the result wasn’t nearly as important as the lack of problems.
“The rally was, I would say, perfect,” the 14-time Austrian Rally Champion Baumschlager told DirtFish.
“We wanted to get through the two days with no issues with the car or the charging and we did that. There was not a single problem at all.”
We wanted to make completely sure we were not having an advantage with this electric carRaimund Baumschlager
After 14 stages and 100 miles of competition, the silent Škoda was an impressive third overall, 2m37.5s behind the more conventional Fabia Rally2 evo of Simon Wagner.
“We made the [performance] map with the Austrian federation, and we wanted to make completely sure we were not having an advantage with this electric car,” explained Baumshlager.
“We have done that. We always wanted to make sure we were just behind the very fastest Rally2 cars.
“The federation was looking and checking [the power output] all of the time and we’re happy with where we are for the balance of power. If we find we are a long way behind in three or four rallies, we talk with them again and maybe they give us an extra 10kW or something like that.”
Baumschlager’s Austrian-based BRR firm has spent months refining Kreisel’s car and the process required to run it.
“We had a charging unit in the truck, so between some stages at a clarified point, we stopped and charged the car for five or 10 minutes,” he explained. “This was so simple.
“This was a good rally for us to compete on for the first time because we had some really changing conditions. On Saturday it was completely dry, but then on the morning on day two there was a lot of rain and standing water. The car was fantastic in both conditions, but if anything maybe even better in the rain.
“We have 1400 kilos with this car, so it’s quite a lot heavier than the ICE-engined car, but that meant we didn’t get quite the same feeling of aquaplaning. But… when it was drying out, you could really feel the extra weight on the brakes and with the tires starting to heat up.
“We know we still have some work to do, we know we have to reduce the weight a little bit. We can do this by looking at the battery and the electric motor, but this was a fantastic start for everybody on this project.
“One of the best things was the interest we had in the car. So many people were coming and looking at what we were doing – and we were able to show how completely safe the car is.
“There were no dangerous situations. We have been able to end some of the stupid stories we’ve heard about electric rally cars.”
Running under Austrian national regulations, Baumschlager is hoping to negotiate with Germany, Slovenia and Czech Republic to compete across the border in coming months.
“We are looking to hire these cars,” he said. “It’s complicated to sell them, but there is a lot of interest in hiring them. Our customers are telling us it’s easier to get sponsorship for one of these cars.”
Anybody wanting to see more of the future should head to the Hartbergerland Rallye at the end of the month for the Škoda Kreisel RE-X1’s next outing.